Roast Your Thanksgiving Turkey a Day Ahead

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Make Ahead Turkey. Linda Larsen

Did you know that you can roast a turkey for Thanksgiving a day ahead of time, carve it, refrigerate it overnight, then reheat it to juicy perfection on Thanksgiving Day? This wonderful method ensures a moist and flavorful bird and is much easier on you. It's especially nice if you aren't sure of your carving skills and would rather not do it in front of an audience, or if you have a small kitchen with just one oven.

This is also a great idea if you have a lot of people coming and want to make sure you have enough turkey. Roast one on the big day and have this one waiting in the fridge!

And I promise you, your house will still smell like turkey on Thanksgiving day. When the turkey reheats, delectable aromas will drift through the house just as if the turkey was being roasted that day.

Roast the turkey the way you'd usually do it (for tips and recipes, see Turkey 101). I roasted my bird unstuffed from the frozen state. When the turkey tests done, at least 170°F in the thigh, take it out of the oven and let it rest, covered, for about 30 minutes. Drain the broth from the roasting pan and scrape up all the drippings; save it all to make the gravy tomorrow. Wash the roasting pan to store the carved turkey.

Then carve the bird. Make sure your knife is sharp! Cut down between one breast and one leg, then pull and twist the leg to pop it out of the joint.

Keep cutting until the leg and thigh come free. Cut the leg away from the thigh. Put the drumstick and pieces of thigh meat into the roasting pan. 

Cut the breast away from the bird, then slice it crosswise, keeping some skin on each piece. Place that in the pan. Cut off the wing and add to the pan.

Then turn the bird around and carve the other side.

Spoon some chicken broth or broth from the roasting pan over the turkey so it stays moist. Cover snugly and refrigerate overnight.

On Thanksgiving day, reheat the turkey in the pan, just as it is, covered, in a 350°F oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until the turkey is hot and steaming and registers 165°F on your meat thermometer; bake it along with the stuffing (drizzle a little turkey broth over the stuffing before you bake it to add some turkey flavor). Use the drippings and broth to make gravy my mother's way; just put the broth and drippings into a saucepan, add a flour/water mixture, and boil hard, adding salt until the flavor blooms. Then all you have to do is mash potatoes and pull the stuffing and turkey out of the oven and arrange it on a platter, add salads and rolls, and eat!